New Cookbook Serves Up Culinary Inspiration

Former movie industry production exec-turned-restaurateur gathers up recipes for Olive & Thyme.
By CYNTHIA YANG, Weekendr Staff Writer
Published on Aug 27, 2020

Melina Davies/Ann Cutting Photography

You’ve been cooking up a storm for the past four months. Working at home allows you a little more time to experiment with new recipes, new tastes and new experiences. You’ve whipped up quite a banquet of exotic meals, along with traditional favorites, to your family’s delight, in your picture-perfect kitchen. 

Or maybe none of that has happened. The stress of homeschooling, kids home all day, work deadlines and a tsunami of home distractions have perhaps turned home dining into a blur of macaroni and cheese in a blue box, Uber Eats and the broad spectrum of Pasadena’s fast food emporiums.

Let’s split the difference, shall we, and assume that there have been some great moments, and some seriously dark days, in your busy kitchen.

Cover photo by Ashley Barrett

Let’s also assume that sometimes the answer is just a touch of inspiration. Enter self-taught chef and author Melina Davies.

Her new cookbook, Olive & Thyme: Everyday Meals Made Extraordinary, will be released Sept. 8 by Pasadena’s Prospect Park Books. It highlights her most popular recipes—drawn from French, Californian, Italian and Middle Eastern influences—along with simple and practical entertaining advice. 

Davies left a movie industry career in 2011 to open her Toluca Lake restaurant, Olive & Thyme, later relocating to a much larger location just up the street. The daughter of Armenian immigrants and USC grad also recently opened a second restaurant in Burbank.

Avocado burrata/Ann Cutting Photography

Movie industry pal Keanu Reeves described Davies’ food as “clean. Elegant. Delicious,” adding, “Melina Davies delivers an exceptional experience with her Olive & Thyme restaurants, and now, in sharing her personal stories and techniques in her cookbook, she gives us the gift of great dishes to prepare at home for friends and family.”

With photos by Pasadena’s Ann Elliott Cutting and a foreword by lauded chef and restaurateur Nancy Silverton (Mozza, La Brea Bakery), Olive & Thyme might just have you reaching for fresh inspirations and ingredients instead of your phone the next time dinner is due. 

Tonight’s as good a night as any. So is tomorrow.

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